x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Celebrated Pakistani writer Anwar Maqsood’s satirical play comes to UAE

The play Pawnay 14 August offers a satirical look at the current state of affairs in Pakistan through the eyes of three of its forefathers.

Pawnay 14 August is the celebrated writer Anwar Maqsood’s first play. Courtesy Ccreanss Communication
Pawnay 14 August is the celebrated writer Anwar Maqsood’s first play. Courtesy Ccreanss Communication

What happens when Pakistan’s master of Urdu satire directs his astute observation at theatre for the first time? The answer lies in the incisive and biting one-act play titled Pawnay 14 August (Three-Quarters of August 14), referring to Pakistan’s Independence Day.

A satirical look at the current state of affairs in Pakistan through the eyes of three of its forefathers – Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal and Maulana Shaukat Ali – the play has become a runaway success since its debut in 2012. With more than 100 live performances to date, the KopyKat production, written by Anwar Maqsood and directed by Dawar Mehmood, comes to the UAE courtesy of Ccreanss Communications.

A celebrated Pakistani writer, Maqsood, despite 45 years of success as a playwright for television, had never written a play until Meh­mood cajoled him into it. Eager to create something with an underlying message, Maqsood brought Jinnah, Iqbal and Ali together in present-day Pakistan, spending a couple of days exploring the country they helped create and seeing what has become of it. Bet­ween witty one-liners, Maqsood’s characteristic dry humour paints a picture that will make you laugh and cringe at the same time.

In the play, after having witnessed – and been disappointed by – the Independence Day celebrations in Karachi, the trio make their way to Lahore and Islamabad. Holding unconfirmed tickets, the three must wait in the airport lounge until seats become available on a flight. It is during this wait that they encounter the everyday citizens of the country they founded: everyone from political bigwigs and rich industrialists to blue-collar workers and students. Their interactions swiftly reveal a country where present-day reality is far removed from the ideals it was founded on.

The sociopolitical observations, channelled humorously through the characters in this play, are not anti-Pakistan, insists Mehmood.

“If anything, the play is extremely pro-Pakistan,” he says. “We have seen people get so emotional while watching the performances. It touches people’s hearts.”

“The play has a very clear message,” says Maqsood. “After 64 years of the independence of our country, we are regressing rather than moving forward. Our generation has not been able to rid the country of its problems, but maybe this generation can. I have written this play to remind our young people of the efforts our great leaders have made in creating this country.”

Pawnay 14 August will be performed at the Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, Mall of the Emirates, on March 20 at 7pm and 9.30pm. Tickets, from Dh100, can be purchased by contacting 050 225 4010 or info@ccreanss.me

artslife@thenational.ae